More happens in the first fifty pages of Bad Marie by Marcy Dermansky than in entire novels I’ve read this year. It’s the lightning speed of the story that makes this book so damn hard to put down.
Marie has recently turned thirty and been released from prison. She served six years as an accessory to bank robbery and murder. While in prison Marie spent years reading Virginie at Sea over and over again and working in the laundry. Upon her release she lands on the doorstep for her rich childhood frenemy, Ellen who hires Marie to babysit.
The relationship between Ellen and Marie is uneasy at best. When Ellen and her husband, Benoit Doniel, the French novelist who penned Virginie at Sea, come home from a night on the town to find Marie passed out in a bubble bath with two-and-a-half-year-old Caitlin playing with rubber duckies in the water, Marie’s given a week’s notice that she’s going to be replaced. Marie promptly seduces Benoit and absconds with him and Caitlin to Paris.
That, my friends, is the first fifty pages. Do you feel a little breathless? Good, because it never lets up. The story keeps up that pace through its entire 212 pages. There seem to be a few ridiculous coincidences* that happen along the way (I won’t give them away), but not once did my interest in Marie’s story flag.
She makes all the wrong decisions. Every single choice Marie makes is bad, and hell if I wasn’t happy with the choices she made. It seems a little weird to say that I was rooting for the ex-convict, petty thief, kidnapping, seductress, but I was. She’s really likable, and mostly I just wanted her to get a break.
Reading Bad Marie reminded me of reading when I was a kid. I found myself draped over furniture ignoring everything I should be doing to grab a few more pages. I ignored people and bed times and responsibilities as much as I could to read Bad Marie. One night I even dreamt I was going to Paris with some child that wasn’t mine (only I kept this child in a Ramona Flowers bag and was super pissed when she ripped up the lining). This is the kind of book that will infect you and you will be thankful that it’s only 212 pages because if it were any longer you might lose your job and your friends, because it’s that hard to stop reading.
*Re: ridiculous coincedences. Only one of these made me roll my eyes and think “are you fucking kidding me.” But then I read all that crap they put in the back of paperbacks — the reading guide type of stuff. In one of the extras, Marcy Dermansky said she was influenced by French films and such, and the coincidences made more sense in that she was going for a French farce sort of thing. Also, I never read that crap at the back of the book, but I so didn’t want to be finished that I read every word of this book — all the review blurbs, the interview, the excerpt from another book. All of the words, I ate them right up.